Luke 11:1 He was praying in a certain place, and when he ceased, one of his disciples said to him, "Lord, teach us to pray, as John taught his disciples."

The word for today is prayer. None of us, by ourselves, pray as we ought. There are several obstacles:

    1. Pray without ceasing – this is a command of scriptures, this if the first place we are liable to fail. How do you pray without ceasing? How can you get anything done if you do pray without ceasing? As a result many never really begin. But even if you do begin, how do you continue? Who has that much to say to God, without being repetitive, and we know we are warned against vain repetition as being an improper pagan practice. So the first thing we need to do is to modify our definition of what prayer is – for many prayer is talking to God – which might not sound bad, the problem is that for many, they do all the talking – they never have time to listen to God. This is why a better definition of what prayer is, is conversation with God, a conversation that God begins – which means after we’ve said all we have to say, the rest of prayer is listening to God.
    2. Pray with faith – if you don’t believe God will hear or answer, why do you turn to him? Why should he listen to people who doubt he is able to help? Scriptures tells us that those who pray without faith that God will hear and answer – that they should not expect anything.
    3. Prayers for our passions – if we passionately want or desire something, we feel that God should give it to us – you could call these the Santa Claus prayers, we bring to God our Christmas wish list – this is not what prayer is about – just as parents don’t give their children everything they ask for – but give them what is good for them – so God wold give to us – feeding our passions is generally not a good thing.
    4. We just don’t ask – if God invites us to pray, if God promises to hear, if God is able to give us more than we can deserve our desire – why is it, that so often, the things we need the most – we just never get around to asking for them?

But here is the good news, something we can see right in our text. When the disciples ask Jesus to teach them to pray, they really don’t ask for the right reason – they ask to keep up with the Jones, or in this case, the disciples of John the Baptist. Although they ask for the wrong reason, he answers their prayer. Normally you wouldn’t expect that, but that is the great secret – just how much God loves us and how much he desires to do for us – which we summarize by talking about how he gave his son to die for us – that’s how much God loves us.

Our text concludes with the words:

Luke 11:13 If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will the heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him!"

And that is why prayer is not impossible, because God has not left us on our own, but in bring us to faith, he has also given us a gift, the holy spirit which dwells in our hearts, and because of the holy spirit, which is a gift of God, we can pray, even if we do not know the right words, the spirit intercedes for us – that’s how much God loves us

And this is the same spirit who guides us in the study of God’s word – you see, it is through the Word that God speaks to us, it is the rest of what prayer is all about – not our talking but our listening as God speaks to our hearts through the Spirit.